Texting penalty must fit the crime

Marietta City Council may delay a citywide ban on texting and talking on hand held cell phones while driving, as its members further discuss the appropriate penalties that would be associated with the crime.

Language may be changed so that a license suspension isn’t automatic but rather an option, a change we would agree with.

However, others have said the original plan to have it considered a second-degree misdemeanor may also be too harsh. The punishment for that is a fine of up to $750 and up to 90 days in jail for a first-time offense.

We think those penalties would be acceptable. Residents and council should keep in mind that those are simply maximum guidelines and there is still sentencing discretion.

We doubt anyone would actually be sentenced to significant jail time, or any, unless they were a truly habitual offender. Most would probably be given fines and that may be a great deterrent.

Drivers have gotten too accustomed to being able to be on their phones and laws have taken too long to catch up to the technology.

We have to take a serious stand to put a dent in this dangerous behavior.

Many people believe that they are still good drivers while chatting on the phone but if they’re on the phone, dialing or texting they’re not paying as much attention to the road, period. Their reflexes will be slower and they’re putting everyone at risk for a selfish behavior.

The call isn’t worth a person’s life, or possible injury or property damage. Those who think it can’t happen to them are often more immature drivers and people, without the life experience to know that it can, or the wisdom to see beyond their own immediate needs.

Engaging in visual-manual subtasks (such as reaching for a phone, dialing and texting) associated with the use of hand-held phones and other portable devices increased the risk of getting into a crash by three times, according to a study by the Virginia Tech Transportation Institute.

We’ve all seen the statistics, too, of people who have died due to their own distracted driving or someone else’s.

Just because we like to use our phones in the car and we want to doesn’t mean we should.

Under the city and state laws, those who use time in the car to catch up on business calls or who want to be available 24/7 for their children or others, would still have the option of getting a hands-free device.

We can’t totally eliminate distracted driving. There will always be people changing the radio station, talking to passengers and having a snack while behind the wheel.

But this is something we can put a stop to and we should-with the strictest of consequences.